USArray Receiver Function Imaging of Multiple-Layer Crustal Structure of the Contiguous United States

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Xiaofei Ma1, Anthony R Lowry1 and Dhananjay Ravat2, (1)Utah State University, Logan, UT, United States, (2)University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, United States
Thickness andseismic velocity of crustal layers are useful for understanding the history and evolution of continental lithosphere. Lowry and Pérez-Gussinyé (2011) observed that low bulk crustal seismic velocity ratio, Vp/Vs, strongly correlates with high geothermal gradient and active deformation, indicating quartz (to which Vp/Vs is most sensitive) plays a role in these processes. The lower crust (where ductile flow occurs which might explain the relationship) is commonly thought to be quartz-poor. However, layering of the crust may represent changes in either lithology or the phase of quartz. Laboratory strain-stress experiments on quartz indicate that near the a- to b-quartz phase transition, both Vp and Vp/Vs initially drop dramatically but then increase relative to the a-quartz regime because Young’s modulus initially decreases by 30% before increasing by a net ~20%. Shear modulus varies only ~3% across the transition. Crustal structure is commonly represented by an upper, mid- and lower layer (e.g., Crust1.0) and conceptualized as primarily reflecting a change to more mafic lithology at greater depth, but estimates of Moho temperature indicate a quartz phase transition should be present in much of the western and central U.S. We have imaged multiple layering of the contiguous U.S. by applying a new cross-correlation and stacking method to USArray receiver functions. Synthetic models of a multiple layer crust indicate ‘splitting’ of converted-phase arrivals would be expected if a quartz phase transition were responsible. Preliminary imaging using cross-correlation of observed receiver functions with multiple layer synthetics demonstrates a marked improvement in correlation coefficients relative to a single-layer crust. In this presentation we will examine observational evidence for possible a- to b- phase transition layering (indicating quartz at depth) and compare with depths predicted for the quartz phase transition based on Pn-derived Moho temperatures and estimates of magnetic Curie depths.